Breathing Exercises for Pain Relief

March 08, 2021, Publisher: Breath Hub

It is possible to relieve or completely heal pain with breathwork. In this article, we will focus on deep diaphragmatic breathing and Nadi Shodhana pranayama that are effective for pain relief and have many benefits when practiced regularly.

How does breathing affect pain?

Irregular breathing can aggravate many kinds of pain and even cause some. However, with regular breathwork, you can regain your natural breathing habits. Once your breath finds its rhythm, it becomes easier for your body to heal. The pain is a symptom, it is your body giving you a message. This message tells us the chemistry of the area has changed or needs to change. The goal is not to get rid of the sensation but to heal the chemistry that caused the pain in the first place.

Deep diaphragmatic breathing

Diaphragmatic breathing is especially effective on chronic pain. It relaxes your body and reduces muscle tension caused by the pain, preventing the tension from making the pain worse. Using diaphragm muscles increases the lung capacity and improves breathing. Deep diaphragmatic breathing also helps to deal with depression, anxiety, and sleep disorders.

How to practice deep diaphragmatic breathing

Place one hand on your belly and one hand on your chest and notice which hand moves as you breathe. You can repeat this practice for 5 to 10 minutes whenever you need.

  • Sit up straight in a comfortable position. If you’re new to diaphragmatic breathing, lying down can help you during this practice.
  • Breathe out gently and completely. Take a deep breath through your nose towards your belly and exhale through your mouth, pursing your lips as if you’re blowing out a candle.
  • Try to keep your neck and shoulders stable as you breathe in and out. Your chest may move up and down a little, but it should be your abdomen that does most of the movement. Your belly will not only move up and down but also expand sideways during a healthy diaphragm breath. Notice the movement by placing your hands on both sides of your belly.

Make sure to let your belly move naturally during this practice. As we breathe in, the diaphragm contracts and flattens, losing its dome-like shape and moving downward. This causes the abdominal muscles to expand. However, intentionally forcing the abdominal muscles to expand will weaken the diaphragm muscle and make it difficult to breathe with maximum lung capacity. Observe your breath carefully and relax your abdominal muscles to improve your breathing.

Nadi Shodhana pranayama

Also known as alternate nostril breathing, Nadi Shodhana is an ancient breathing technique. It is easy to incorporate in your daily life and offers many benefits, such as aligning the two hemispheres of the brain, calming the nervous system down, decreasing stress, balancing hormones, cleansing toxins, and relieving pain. For maximum benefit, alternate nostril breathing should be practiced daily for 5-10 minutes.

How to practice alternate nostril breathing

This practice incorporates alternating the breath between right and left nostrils with the help of the right hand. We’ll fold down our index and middle fingers and use our thumb to close the right nostril and the ring finger to close the left nostril. We’ll switch fingers after each inhale. The duration of the inhales and exhales will be equal. You can start with a count of 4 and gradually increase it as you become more comfortable.

  • Sit straight in a cross-legged position and keep your chin parallel to the ground.
  • Take a deep breath. Close your right nostril and exhale through the left.
  • Inhale through the left. Switch your finger exhale through the right nostril.
  • Inhale through the right. Switch and exhale through the left nostril.
  • Inhale through the left. Switch and exhale through the right nostril.
  • Repeat this process four times for each nostril.
  • To end the practice, exhale through the left nostril. Finally, inhale and exhale through both nostrils.

You can find many other pain-relieving breath techniques in Breath Hub. In addition to pain relief, you can choose among hundreds of breathing techniques and sessions to improve your overall health and wellbeing. Start your breathing practice today!